Maharashtra: Fake news on social media led to 339 arrests since Covid outbreak

A year since the Novel Coronavirus had hit the city, the Maharashtra Cyber has registered at least 808 offences in connection with the spread and posting of fake news. Of these 808 offences, at least 339 people were apprehended and booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and Information Technology Act.

According to the data shared by the Maharashtra Cyber, over 7,328 objectionable and malicious posts were uploaded on social media since March last year, of which the state Cyber police had taken down over 2,253 such posts. An officer said that a number of fake posts had surfaced on the internet, social media in connection to the spread of COVID, lockdown being extended, or fake news about the pandemic, which caused a huge unrest among the already panicked public. In a crackdown on such miscreants, the stakeholders/platforms where the malicious posts were made, we flagged them and took down over 2,253 posts."

In a crackdown on fake news on COVID-19, the Maharashtra Cyber registered over 808 offences against the miscreants, of which 742 were recognizable and the rest were non-cognisable, leading to the arrest of 339 people. Police also got in touch with various social media platforms and deleted more than 138 posts.

Amid a number of fake news surrounding the lockdown rules, resumption of local travel and restrictions, the number of fake posts went to a new height after Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death, wherein people had spread objectionable content against the police, government, and other people connected to the actor.

A senior Cyber official said that when an objectionable post is found on social media, the account holder is asked to delete it, and if they fail to do so, a notice under section 149 of CrPC is issued to them. Most of the malicious posts were against celebrities and political leaders, made with political agendas or personal grudges, or simply because there is a platform to vent out. Complaints are not registered in all cases, however, but whatever the algorithms set in the police department flag off the posts, the action is initiated upon them, said a senior Cyber official.

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